Relaxing in the kitchen of his water-side home in Isumi, a small quiet city in Chiba Prefecture, artist Kazunori Hamana is surrounded by jars of homemade umeboshi (pickled plums) and unusual items from around the world, including a hand-tailored Japanese-style coat, traditional masks and artworks by admired friends.

“Japan is so ugly, so ugly sometimes!” he exclaims, half laughing, but half serious, as he looks out across his balcony to the calm sea. It’s a hot summer’s day and the breeze is welcome; the ugliness he laments seems a world away.

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